Hockney masterpiece goes on view ahead of auction

LONDON (Reuters) - Billed as the “most important David Hockney landscape to ever appear at auction”, the British artist’s “Nichols Canyon” went on view in London on Thursday ahead of its sale.

The 1980 landscape is the star lot of Phillips’ 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York on Dec. 7 and is estimated to sell for $35 million.

Nichols Canyon is considered Hockney’s first mature landscape. It marked the artist’s return to California and to painting following a hiatus in the 1970s during which he focused on photography.

The painting’s counterpart “Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio”, is held in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

It is a very rare and pretty unique painting in his career, according to Phillips Global Chairwoman Cheyenne Westphal.

“The canyon was very much part of his daily life. He was living up the hill and driving down the hill to his studio and this journey every day, several times, became part of his self, as he says.”

“He started it with a wonderful squiggly line and then created this extraordinary California landscape around it with the swimming pool, the houses, just the lusciousness of it all.”

The painting has been held in a private U.S. collection since 1982.

In 2018, 83-year-old Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” from 1972 sold for $90.3 million at Christie’s in New York, smashing the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a living artist.

Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Editing by Alexandra Hudson